Texas family detention centers expected to transform into rapid-processing hubs

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The South Texas Family Residential Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Dilley. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

The Biden administration is preparing to convert its immigrant family detention centers in South Texas into Ellis-Island-style rapid-processing hubs that will screen migrant parents and children with a goal of releasing them into the United States within 72 hours, according to Department of Homeland Security draft plans obtained by The Washington Post.

The plans show the Biden administration is racing to absorb a growing number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border amid shortages of bed space and personnel. Republicans and some Democrats fear that relaxing detention policies will exacerbate a surge that is already straining the Biden administration.

Transforming family detention amounts to a wholesale repudiation not only of the Trump administration’s policies but also those of former President Barack Obama, and presents a dramatically new vision of how to handle the fast-changing character of mass migration at the southern border.